Following on The Hermit’s Kiss, Richard Teleky continues his exploration of solitude, memory, and the consolations of art in this new volume. The pull of the natural world, the loss of a beloved parent, an inherited family garden, and the claims of the imagination (from a Bartók piano concerto and characters in Chekhov’s Cherry Orchard to celebrities like Dolly Parton) are just a few of the subjects that Teleky turns to with passionate detachment and surreal wit. “Learn to carry the night / like a gift overdue,” Teleky writes near the end of The Hermit in Arcadia, challenging himself, and his readers, to stand firm before the weight of passing time.
Praise for The Hermit in Arcadia
“In The Hermit in Arcadia, Richard Teleky pay oblique homage to the sheer strangeness of the world, but the cumulative power of the collection arises from the even stranger eye which observes it. These are poems intended ‘to defy the bone-picker.’ They range from cryptic riddles, gnomic quatrains, and melodious enigmas to long, restrained elegies. In one of his most memorable poems, an elegy for the gardens of the past and the eccentric women who lovingly tended them, he confronts ‘dumb time: the garden’s enemy.’ Teleky’s skill in his craft ensures that all his poems convey a subtle but incisive music; exquisitely paced, cunningly cadenced, they seem at times to sing themselves. Still, this is no predictable musicality: Dolly Parton is here, as is Handel, and in the strangest of his poems the two almost seem engaged in a duet. These are highly sophisticated poems that yet remain ‘low to the ground,’ like the poet’s beloved pug (who makes two appearances). This is an extremely impressive and accomplished new collection, as vivid and distinctive as the ‘fresh bruise of barbarous mauve’ of ‘The Corpse Flower’ he boldly celebrates.”
“The novelist Richard Teleky has now produced two collections of sophisticated poetry. The Hermit in Arcadia, his second, is most specifically about gardening: the garden as metaphor for Arcadia, a pastoral wilderness of growth and decay, work and self-sufficiency, solitude and humility. The poems here suggest that the complex simplicity of gardening is central to life, brought to the reader’s attention by the clear sight of Teleky’s clear lines, most apparent in the wonderful title poem…His poems are about life and regret (sometimes reminding of James Schuyler’s more introspective moments and, especially, his enjambments), music (he is at his most joyous here, especially in the wondrous ‘Clara Plays Mozart’), aging, dogs and gardening. They are sometimes historical, but reflect from the present on what has passed. As a whole, the book feels planned and unified—steady in its beauty.”
– PN Review, Vol. 37, No. 6